Anger In Veterans With PTSD Higher With Depression

First Posted: May 13, 2015 04:01 PM EDT

Depression increases the risk of anger in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to recent findings published by the American Psychological Association.

"Our study findings should draw attention to anger as a major treatment need when military service members screen positive for PTSD or for depression, and especially when they screen positive for both," said lead author Raymond Novaco, PhD, professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine. The study appeared in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory Research, Practice and Policy, in a news release

For the study, researchers examined the health data of 2,077 U.S. soldiers who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and sought out medical assistance for behavioral health issues.

Participants were screened for PTSD and major depressive disorder, placing them in one of four groups: PTSD-only, MDD-only, PTSD and MDD combined or neither. They also measured the veterans' anger and whether they said they were considering harming others.

They then found that anger and self-related risk of harm was significantly higher in groups with both PTSD and MDD when compared to the other three involved. Furthermore, researchers found that PTSD was commonly linked to depression, with approximately 72 percent of those screened positive for PTSD also screening positive for MDD.

Researchers conducted the study in the hopes of gaining more insight among combat veterans and trauma populations in general. 

"PTSD and depression dominate the landscape, but these, of course, are formal psychiatric disorders," he added. "There is no diagnostic category for anger, nor do I think there should be, so anger slips from research attention."

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